April 18, 2018
However, the bigger story is Mexico’s admission/concession to the U.S. trade position that Canada and Mexico structure access to the U.S. market inside their trade deals with other nations.
With a Marxist about to win the July 1st election; and with certain nationalization of private industry soon to follow; and with free capital markets anticipating and responding by shifting investment into the U.S.; Mexico proposes to close the fatal flaw in NAFTA.
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The ministers leading the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could meet again on Thursday in Washington as they push for quick progress, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Monday.
Guajardo said he had spoken to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday and would talk to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday to see about agreeing a trilateral meeting in Washington on Thursday.
Speaking after meeting with steel industry executives, Guajardo also said if that the United States imposed steel tariffs, Mexico might seek to mirror the move against some countries in order to prevent them from using Mexico to elude the duties.
By shipping parts to Mexico and/or Canada; and by deploying satellite manufacturing and assembly facilities in Canada and/or Mexico; China, Asia and to a lesser extent EU corporations, exploited a loophole.
Through a process of building, assembling or manufacturing their products in Mexico/Canada those foreign corporations can skirt U.S. trade tariffs and direct U.S. trade agreements. The finished foreign products entered the U.S. under NAFTA rules.
Why deal with the U.S. when you can just deal with Mexico, and use NAFTA rules to ship your product directly into the U.S. market?
This exploitative approach, a backdoor to the U.S. market, was the primary reason for massive foreign investment in Canada and Mexico; it was also the primary reason why candidate Donald Trump, now President Donald Trump, wanted to shut down that loophole and renegotiate NAFTA.
This loophole was the primary reason for U.S. manufacturers to relocate operations to Mexico. Corporations within the U.S. Auto-Sector could enhance profits by building in Mexico or Canada using parts imported from Asia/China. The labor factor was not as big an aspect of the overall cost consideration as cheaper parts and imported raw materials.
All nuanced trade-sector issues put aside, the larger issue was always how third-party nations will seek to gain access to the U.S. market through Canada and Mexico. [It is the NAFTA exploitation loophole which has severely damaged the U.S. manufacturing base.] That’s why this trade admission by Canada and Mexico is stunning.
[…] U.S. President Donald Trump has driven the renegotiation of NAFTA, arguing that the deal has hollowed out American manufacturing to the advantage of lower-cost Mexico.
Trump has threatened to use other measures, such as slapping import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, to gain leverage over Mexico and Canada in the NAFTA talks. Both countries have been initially exempted from the tariffs.
Guajardo said that if Mexico remained exempt, the government would consider mirroring any U.S. tariffs on countries with which Mexico did not have a free trade agreement.
Otherwise Mexico could become a “back door” for Asian imports the United States wanted to discourage, Guajardo said. (read more)
That is one heck of an admission. However, the qualifier: “on countries with which Mexico did not have a free trade agreement“… is sketchy. Yet even within that qualifier Mexico and Canada are admitting to their exploitation; that’s a big admission.
We shall wait and see where this new development goes, because there’s no way that Trump and Lightizer are going to watch Mexico and Canada admit to what they do with Steel/Aluminum, and not demand they apply the same “mirror standard” to other aspects, industries, materials and sectors of the agreement.
By admitting to the flaw on Asian imports, Mexico is opening the negotiation door to all product sectors. This is the FATAL FLAW we did not anticipate Mexico and Canada ever agreeing to close.
Can/Mex must really be anticipating a U.S. withdrawal, otherwise they would never make the admission public. However, again, all of this said, it’s almost an impossible loophole to close unless Canada and Mexico agree to allow the U.S. to dictate the terms for their future bilateral trade agreements.
From the POTUS Trump position, NAFTA always came down to two options:
Option #1 – renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement to eliminate the loopholes. That would require Canada and Mexico to agree to very specific rules put into the agreement by the U.S. that would remove the ability of third-party nations to exploit the current trade loophole. Essentially the U.S. rules would be structured around removing any profit motive with regard to building in Canada or Mexico and shipping into the U.S.
Canada and Mexico would have to agree to those rules; the goal of the rules would be to stop third-party nations from exploiting NAFTA. The problem in this option is the exploitation of NAFTA currently benefits Canada and Mexico. It is against their interests to remove it. Knowing it was against their interests President Trump never thought it was likely Canada or Mexico would ever agree. But he was willing to explore and find out.
Option #2 – Exit NAFTA. And subsequently deal with Canada and Mexico individually with structured trade agreements about their imports. Canada and Mexico could do as they please, but each U.S. bi-lateral trade agreement would be written with language removing the aforementioned cost-benefit-analysis to third-party countries (same as in option #1.)
The issue of Canada and Mexico making trade agreements with other nations (especially China), while brokering their NAFTA access position with the U.S. as a strategic part of those agreements, is a serious issue that cannot adequately be resolved while the U.S. remains connected to NAFTA. …*UNLESS* Canada and Mexico agree that U.S. trade tariff amounts will always be the floor for their own trade deals with other nations.